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Pakistan's Khan leads anti-government protest in Lahore

Dozens of Imran Khan's supporters gathered at different junctions of the city’s major roads and burnt tyres in the latest round of anti-government protests. The former cricketer turned politician claims the 2013 general election, which brought Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s party to power, was rigged and is calling for the formation of a judicial commission to investigate.

LAHORE // Workers from Imran Khan’s Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party shut down major roads in the Pakistani city of Lahore on Monday, forcing the suspension of public transport services.

Dozens of PTI supporters gathered at different junctions of the city’s major roads and burnt tyres in the latest round of anti-government protests.

Mr Khan claims the 2013 general election, which brought Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s party to power, was rigged and is calling for the formation of a judicial commission to investigate.

The former cricketer turned politician has previously called on Mr Sharif to resign.

Local and foreign observers have rated the 2013 polls as credible, however.

A heavy police presence was on the streets of Lahore on Monday to try to prevent violence. It followed clashes at a similar protest in the city of Faisalabad last week in which one protester was killed.

“A contingent of 15,000 police personnel have been deployed in the city to avoid any untoward incident,” senior police official Haider Ashraf said.

PTI supporters have been holding demonstrations around the country since mid-August, but the campaign has lost momentum after so far failing in its aims.

It received a boost on December 8, however, when a judge ordered a vote audit in a key constituency, a long-standing demand of the PTI.

Mr Khan has said an audit will highlight systemic flaws in the 2013 election.

Mr Khan has now vowed to paralyse major cities around the country on December 18, starting with Lahore, if the PTI’s demands are not met.

A protest by the party’s supporters on December 12 blocked major road junctions in Pakistan’s biggest city, Karachi.

It came the day after Mr Khan’s party and the government resumed negotiations aimed at ending a nearly four-month political stalemate.

A lengthy sit-in protest outside the parliament building in Islamabad in late August and early September led to brief violent clashes and destabilised Mr Sharif’s government.

* Agence France-Presse

Updated: December 15, 2014 04:00 AM

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